How to Understand and Avoid Accidental Plagiarism Using a Plagiarism Checker?

November 14th, 2020

Reading time about 13 min

Plagiarism is using someone else’s work as one’s own and not giving due credit to the original author. Out of the most common types of plagiarism, unintentional plagiarism is the most widespread.

Unintentional plagiarism occurs when a writer fails to follow scholarly procedures and accidentally copies parts of work that have already been published.

The cause of this type of plagiarism is due to a lack of proper conduct and research necessary to undertake topics and is seen as a lack of appropriate academic preparation. One can describe accidental plagiarism as not giving due credit or citation without an explicit intent to cheat.

While accidental plagiarism is counted as ignorance rather than a willful and deliberate flouting of rules, it is still plagiarism. Hence, every punishment that applies to intentional acts of plagiarism applies to accidental plagiarism as well.

Hence, students need to be aware of the potential dangers of accidentally plagiarizing and learn how to avoid it.

What is Accidental Plagiarism?

To understand the question, what is accidental plagiarism‘, one must first understand the meaning of plagiarism and what it constitutes. The most common misconception of plagiarism is how people think plagiarized content means that the content is copied word for word, which is not the case. Apart from carbon copies, plagiarism also includes copied ideas, experiments, quotes, using synonyms, etc. Even if you paraphrase the text, you need to ensure it has your own interpretations and views.

Accidental plagiarism means plagiarizing the content unintentionally. It commonly occurs due to lack of proper citations or wrong citations, forgetting or neglecting to quote, or accidentally using the same phrases or similar combinations of words as given in the original.

What Gives Rise to Accidental Plagiarism?

With the advent of the internet and numerous articles existing on one topic, it is relatively easy to paraphrase unintentionallyWhile doing research, one may like certain parts and paraphrase them. However, if one does not have a good understanding of the topic and a grasp of the language, one may borrow words from a source, which will lead to plagiarized content.

Therefore, to avoid it, one should first understand the topic clearly and prepare them for writing. Another essential thing regarding this is that often students keep looking at the material and paraphrasing it simultaneously. It can degrade a piece of work because, in this way, the writer does not understand the concept blindly using synonyms to paraphrase the whole thing.

accidental plagiarism, reading book

So, it is always better to first understand the whole thing, comprehend the concept and the idea behind it, and then put it down in pen and paper for the audience to read in your words. Such words should not be flowery language and ornamental words. The language should be simple yet unique enough to hit the audience.

One of the fundamental responsibilities of a student is to ensure that he or she follows proper instructions and submits the original work. Hence, these behaviors, such as copying someone else’s work or not giving proper credit and acknowledgment, are unacceptable and can be highly detrimental to their careers.

What Are the Effects of Accidental Plagiarism?

1.      Academic

Most institutions check thoroughly to ensure that a student’s academic work is free of plagiarism. A student caught for plagiarism faces disciplinary actions and other punishments like deduction of marks, and if it is more serious, it can even lead to suspension or expulsion. Thus, it affects their career severely.

2.      Legal

The publication of copyrighted material without prior permission of the original author can lead to serious legal actions. Often it is monetary compensation, but sometimes, one can also initiate judicial trials.

accidental plagiarism, Gavel next to book

3.      Professional

When professionals copy their work from other sources without proper citation, they find their work rejected and their reputation ruined.

How to Avoid Accidental Plagiarism?

Hence, avoiding accidental plagiarism is necessary for writing unique articles.

1. Cite Sources:

Citing sources for a blog, image, or document that has been used in writing reports is the best way to avoid plagiarism. It is also important to stay loyal to the article’s tone and what it wants to say. This is something that most writers miss since providing proper citation seems so negligible. On the contrary, it can help reduce accidental plagiarism a lot.

2. Paraphrase Carefully:

Plagiarisms can occur unintentionally while paraphrasing a pre-existing work. When reading an article, you tend to subconsciously memorize the words rather than understand the meaning, which, in turn, reflects in your content. To avoid this, you need to practice writing. However, a quick solution is using a plagiarism checker to find plagiarized content. 

3. Use Quotation Marks:

Using quotation marks can help reduce plagiarism, but do not use it too much. Quote only phrases or sentences which you think are necessary to quote. For others, change it as much as possible and make sure that you add in your own views and points.

4. Use A Plagiarism Checker:

The best way to stop accidental plagiarism is to use a plagiarism checker. One can run the assignments through these tools. They provide a comprehensive plagiarism report highlighting the percentage of plagiarism and supply links and URLs from where the work was copied. The complex algorithm of these tools helps them detect almost any kind of plagiarism with high accuracy.

What to Do if Accused of Plagiarism?

The people who are accused of plagiarism think that their career is ruined, and they hardly have a chance of proving their innocence. However, you have a high chance of justification, mainly in accidental plagiarism, and your previous work and behavior are also considered. One can reason that the ideas provided are common knowledge and do not result in plagiarism.

Sometimes previous work, track records, and research may indicate that the plagiarism was unintentional. These efforts also demonstrate students’ sincerity to prove their innocence.

Use a Good Duplicate Content Detector

While writing the content, one must be careful not to cause plagiarism and use a reliable plagiarism checker. If one is a part of the administration, they should ensure none can trick and pass away with a paper having copied content.

Hence, choosing the best copy content detector in the market is the apt option that one can have. The free plagiarism checkers can lure users a lot. However, one should not compromise with the quality of content.

As a student, one is accountable for their career. The best solution, in this case, is to ensure that the writer or the administrator chooses the best plagiarism checker that gives them accurate results.

Another essential thing to consider is user-friendliness. If the checker is not user-friendly, it becomes difficult for people to go on with that checker and keep their customer loyalty. After considering all these factors, one can say that Copyleaks is an excellent tool for all because none can question its accuracy. At the same time, it is relatively user-friendly.


Accidental plagiarisms are a common occurrence in most of the write-ups today. Even if it is committed accidentally, it can dearly affect your content. From an academic standpoint, committing plagiarism is a huge black mark as plagiarism is unethical. This is why a writer must never neglect to check for plagiarism and whether he has provided proper citations and quotations wherever necessary. The use of a plagiarism checker can help you reduce accidental plagiarisms, thus helping you create original content.


How can accidental plagiarism be avoided?

As a researcher or student, you need to use a clear and appropriate citation for texts or images to avoid accidental plagiarism. 

How do you explain accidental plagiarism?

Most students borrow words or phrases from various sources when writing assignments and neglect to cite them clearly or they paraphrase a text using the same words or phrases unintentionally without attribution. They may also misquote the source. Such acts of accidental plagiarism may call for actions.

What is unintentional plagiarism and how can it be avoided?

Using the ideas or words from a source and failing to follow appropriate citation procedures result in unintentional plagiarism. Here students exhibit little understanding of the citation’s conventions. Avoiding unintentional plagiarism asks for taking notes, keeping a record of sources, and citing the sources properly.  

Why do students commit accidental plagiarism?

Most students are blamed for causing accidental plagiarism, for they write their research paper or assignment at the last minute. They do not give themselves enough time for research and instead depend on the sources online.  

What is an example of accidental plagiarism?

When you fail to regard appropriate scholarly procedures, you commit accidental plagiarism. For instance, you don’t cite a source or quote the similar words used in an original source.  

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